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Academics: Theatre

A Christian perspective on theatre at Calvin

In the theatre, artist and audience join together to encounter the heights and depths of human experience and emotion, to address both the woe and the wonder of being human in this world.  As Christian artists, we are called to work diligently at our craft, offering to God the best fruits of our life and labor.  Therefore, in the theatre at Calvin College, our task is to speak the truth in love, in order to tell very human stories with honesty, humility and compassion. 

We believe that the abilities to create and to perform are a gift from God, and that theatre is an institution in which the artistic gifts of creative performance, design, dance and movement come to full physical expression. God has gifted many Calvin students theatrically, and He does so for a reason. Theatrical gifts are not mere "extracurricular" gifts. These gifts are to be celebrated, nurtured, developed and refined both for human vocation and for the good of His kingdom. To develop these gifts in our students, we must help them to master the skills and techniques that will augment their natural gifts.  Whatever God's plan for their lives, our students should recognize and develop their talents, even in the face of contemporary notions of impracticality.

Through our curriculum, we want our students to seek the truth through the study and practice of theatre. Theatre's strength lies in speaking about the human condition. Plays help us to recall what it means to be human; they prevent dehumanization and a tendency toward prideful judgment of others. Theatre reminds us that we all are subject to the same sinfulness and are under the same penalty of death for those sins.

Through our productions, by articulating dramatic narratives through the filters of our Reformed faith, we seek to aid our audience in developing insight into and empathy for individuals and cultures different from our own. Often, Christians are too easily shocked by reality; they want the truth to be completely beautiful. To be honest about our world is to realize that it is likely to appear both beautiful and horrible, both pure and filthy, both redeemed and fallen all at the same time.

The theatre uniquely provides us a space and the time to welcome the unbeautiful stranger into our midst, to spend some time together and perhaps even to recognize ourselves in their stories, as the fallen, unlovely human beings that we are.  For when we tell stories about ourselves, we inevitably confess our frailties and our shortcomings; we reveal what matters to us most and what we long for ultimately.

As Christian theatre artists and educators, we want our students to be agents of change, not merely custodians of the past. Theatre is a living art form, vibrant, relevant, provoking and inspiring.  That is why we consider it a great privilege—one to which we dedicate ourselves with the highest standards of professional practice—to use the gifts God gives to delight the eye, to engage the mind and to encourage the heart.